Obviously you want to be surrounded by everyone you love on your wedding day, so it sucks when that just can’t happen. Here are seven ways to honor missing loved ones a wedding guests who are there in spirit:
Leave a “reserved” seat for missing guests.
In the photo above, there’s a computer in front of a beautifully framed photo. (I’m assuming the plan was to Skype in a grandma who couldn’t travel.) I think the substantial photo frame is key, so the photo is heavy enough that it won’t blow away pre-ceremony. If you’re going to Skype, make sure you test, test, and retest everything beforehand. It sucks to watch a bride and groom sweat when the connection’s not working.
Give them a shout-out in the program.
Briefly mention that you’re celebrating in your hearts with relatives who can’t be there. Brevity is key, though. If you write a whole page about your late grandpa, it’s just going to bring people down.
Ask your officiant to say a few words.
Again, ask him to keep it short and sweet—and remember, this is a HAPPY occasion.
Display a few of their favorite things.
If the grandma in the photo above had passed away, it would be nice to display a bouquet of her favorite flowers in lieu of the laptop. Or if an extra-special great-aunt had a go-to snack, leave a small bowl of gummy bears (or whatever) on the cocktail-hour tables, with a discreet note letting people know that they were Aunt Judy’s favorite.
Include them in photo displays.
If you’re displaying photos from your parents’ weddings, go ahead and include photos from several generations.
Mention them in your speech.
If you’re going to thank your guests with a speech, say a line or two about missing loved ones, but again, keep it brief. A recently deceased relative will already be the elephant in the room, especially if the circumstances of the death were especially sad. There’s no need to dress the elephant in a sequined gown and shine a spotlight on him, if that makes sense.
Make a donation in their honor.
Rather than give your guests a silly trinket as a wedding favor, mention on the program that in lieu of favors, a donation is being in honor of Grandma Lynn to the American Cancer Society. Again, I’d keep the note discreet. I once went to a wedding where there was a paragraph-long note on every place setting explaining that a donation had been made in honor of a bridesmaid’s baby who had passed away. Of course, it’s amazing that the bride and groom made the donation, but when the guests were feeling super-celebratory after the ceremony, having a tearjerker note at every seat definitely brought everyone down.
Will you have loved ones missing when you celebrate your wedding? How will you honor them?